Endangered by Sprawl

The rapid conversion of once-natural areas and farmland into subdivisions, shopping centers, roads and parking lots has become a leading threat to America’s native plants and animals.

Foot Traffic Ahead: 2016

The end of sprawl is in sight. For perhaps the first time in 60 years, walkable urban places (WalkUPs) in all 30 of the largest metros are gaining market share over their drivable sub-urban competition—and showing substantially higher rental premiums.

Foot Traffic Ahead: 2016 shows that metros with the highest levels of walkable urbanism are also the most educated and wealthy (as measured by GDP per capita)— and, surprisingly, the most socially equitable.

Watch the recorded webcast of "The Fiscal Implications of Development Patterns"

To what degree does the choice of development pattern impact costs for a local government? How do these decisions affect a municipality’s budget and tax revenues, and the cost of infrastructure and services it must provide?

The Fiscal Impact of Development Patterns, a new model from Smart Growth America and real estate advisors RCLCO, is designed to help municipalities answer these questions.

The new model was unveiled yesterday morning, and as part of the kickoff Chris Zimmerman, Smart Growth America’s Vice President for Economic Development, and Patrick Lynch, Smart Growth America’s Research Director, presented an overview of the new resource at an event in Madison, WI. The presentation was webcast live yesterday afternoon and a recorded version of their discussion is now available above or on YouTube.

Changing development codes to promote smart growth in Memphis

Downtown Memphis from across the Mississippi River. Photo by Joel, via Flickr.
Like many large southern cities, Memphis, TN’s growth over the past few decades has been characterized largely by sprawl and a focus on automobile travel. Josh Whitehead, Planning Director for Memphis and unincorporated Shelby County, is working to promote development downtown through the use of the city’s new Unified Development Code (UDC), which gives more flexibility to developers in order to facilitate infill growth.

Where America is sprawling and what it means

Measuring Sprawl 2014

Some regions in the United States are sprawling, some are building in compact and connected ways, and the difference between the two strategies has huge implications for the day-to-day lives of millions of Americans.

Measuring Sprawl 2014, released today Smart Growth America in partnership with the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center, ranks the most sprawling and most compact areas of the country. The new report evaluates development patterns in 221 major metropolitan areas and their counties based on four factors: density, land use mix, street connectivity and activity centering. Each metro area received a Sprawl Index score based on these factors.

Measuring Sprawl 2014

Measuring Sprawl 2014 analyzes development patterns in 221 metropolitan areas and 994 counties in the United States as of 2010, looking to see which communities are more compact and connected and which are more sprawling.

A new measure of sprawl in America

Measuring Sprawl

In 2001, Smart Growth America released the landmark study Measuring Sprawl and its Impact. On Wednesday, April 2, we’ll release the next edition of this flagship report with new information about the state of development in the United States.

Measuring Sprawl 2014 will look at development patterns in 221 metropolitan areas across the country and evaluate which communities are the least and most sprawling in the country. The report will score and rank every metropolitan area in the country based on its development, using a four-factor system developed by researchers at the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center.

Join us for the launch of Measuring Sprawl 2014. Smart Growth America and the Metropolitan Research Center will hold an online event to detail the findings of the new report and to discuss growth strategies with communities highlighted in the new analysis. Join us for this free event on Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 11:00 AM EDT.

Smart Growth News – October 15, 2012

Top stories

Beltline a walk in the park
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) – October 13, 2012
On Monday, Mayor Kasim Reed will dedicate what city officials are calling “the most significant step forward yet” in the long-awaited Beltline, a projected 22-mile loop in central Atlanta built upon abandoned railway corridor.

As gas prices soar, city cycling more attractive
Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle (CA) – October 13, 2012
Statewide, Californians are increasingly pumping air into the flat tires on their dusty old bikes instead of gas into their tanks. Recent historic spikes in gas prices are expected to stay high, forcing many to look at their gas guzzling minivans and SUVs in a new light.

Trulia Throws Cold Water on ‘Death of Suburbia’ Argument
Wall Street Journal – October 12, 2012
On Page One of Wednesday’s Journal, we wrote about a museum in Kansas that caters to America’s undying fascination with suburbia. Merits of the museum aside, the article highlights a persistent theme in American culture that has fascinated demographers, urbanists and especially home buyers for several generations: the question of whether or not the suburbs are alive and well or hollowed-out and dying.

Smart growth news – October 3, 2012

Is urban sprawl to blame for cities going bankrupt?
KPCC’s AirTalk (CA) – October 2, 2012
Former Ventura mayor William Fulton says that large public pensions aren’t solely to blame for California city bankruptcies. Urban sprawl poses additional problems.

America’s Great Streets Named By American Planning Association
Huffinton Post – October 3, 2012
As part of the Great Places in America program, the American Planning Association has compiled a list of America’s 10 Great Streets for 2012.

The New SimCity Will Turn You Into An Urban Planning Nut
Co.Exist – October 3, 2012
The newest version of the classic city building game is introducing complex models about things like energy, health care, and transportation. But you can also still destroy your city with an asteroid.

Smart growth news – December 15

Study: Single-Family Homes May Be History
KPBS (Calif.), December 14, 2011
A new study from the Urban Land Institute suggests single-family homes, the largest contributor to urban sprawl, may be a thing of the past. The study looked at California’s major metropolitan areas — including San Diego — and found that by 2035 the supply of homes in conventional subdivisions will far exceed demand.

How the Tea Party Is Upending Urban Planning
Atlantic Cities, December 14, 2011
Across the country, Tea Party activists have been storming planning meetings of all kinds, opposing various plans by local and regional government having anything to do with density, smart growth, sustainability or urbanism. In California, Tea Party activists gained enough signatures for a ballot measure repealing the state’s baseline environmental regulations, while also targeting the Senate Bill 375, the 2008 law that seeks to combat climate change by promoting density and regional planning.

Beyond Sprawl: Rethinking Development in Tucson
Arizona Public Media, December 15, 2011
Tucson and the city’s outskirts were riding high on growth several years ago, with developments seeming to pop up everywhere there was empty land. But that all changed when the housing bust and recession took hold. The Tucson area continues to suffer from the downturn, but does that mean we did something wrong?